With the right approach, there’s plenty of money to be made on mobile games, but it can be tricky to find a monetization battle plan that clicks. How you roll out monetization in your game can be an important factor in your overall success with sales. To offer some inspiration, here’s a quick look at six games that take different paths to earning financial success.
1) Crossy Road
With their surprise mega-hit, developer Hipster Whale takes a gentler approach to monetization by occasionally prompting players to earn in-game coins by watching mobile video ads with sporadic offers to unlock paid avatars between runs. The approach is unique: You don’t have to watch ads to progress in the game, but by watching an ad you accrue coins to spend on characters as you play. The reward is fun new environments, movements and aesthetics – all which serve to keep the game interesting and increase session length.
This minimalist musical puzzler starts out as a free experience but takes a neat experimental detour after level 20, when it asks players what they think the game is worth and offers an opportunity to pay what you want to the developers. It’s an approach that offers value and fun first, then gently entices players to open their virtual wallets as a “thank you” – if they feel like it.
3) The Walking Dead
Adventure games have been driving the episodic release model in a big way, and Telltale’s spin on the popular zombie-slaying series takes a smart approach to monetization. Players can download the first episode in each season for free, but then have the option in-app to buy additional episodes individually or the entire season at a discount. If you’ve enjoyed the first story-driven episode, how can you resist the rest? Clever indeed.
4) Monument Valley
Another huge indie hit, the beautifully designed Monument Valley initially monetizes in a very traditional way — with an outright purchase. However, developer Ustwo created several level pack add-ons that you can purchase right inside the game at a reduced price. This rankled some players, but plenty of others were happy to support the studio’s efforts and additional content. It’s a bolder move that you don’t see as often in the current freemium-heavy landscape.
5) SimCity Build It
Mobile games from AAA publishers, like EA, have been pushing the freemium monetization envelope in interesting ways. SimCity Build It is a free, ultra-polished franchise offering tons of resource collecting and management. While players can get along fine without paying anything, in-app resource purchases to speed things along run from a buck all the way up to $99.99!
6) Zombie Catchers
Two Men and a Dog, the team behind this wacky zombie title, wanted to monetize beyond its existing in-app purchase structure without cannibalizing it. Settling on short opt-in mobile video ads that speed up the flow of gameplay not only increased revenue, it also spurred players to stay in the game 25 percent longer.
If you’re interested in following an approach like Zombie Catchers, check out the case study here and learn how the studio revived players through mobile video.